December + January’s Collective Savings Totals!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

andthenwesaved spending fast collective savings

It’s that time of the month where we get to see how all the hard work we’ve been doing with the Spending Fast and Spending Diets have been paying off! Today, I’ve got both December and January’s Collective Savings amounts!

In December we saved $19,547.95!

In January we saved $22,087.81!

That brings our Collective Savings total to $952,779.11! Um. That’s amazing! Almost a million dollars paid off/saved because of doing Spending Fast/Spending Diet!??! SO AMAZING.

Not sure what I’m talking about with this “collective savings” talk? Welllllll… if you have been thinking about getting out of debt but haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. You can change your life by getting the heck out of debt ASAP then get on with your life. Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too! Then, after you’ve saved/paid off some money even if it’s just $1 be sure to go to our Collective Savings page. There you can log your savings and have your hard work added in with everyone else’s!

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in Savings Total
Minimalism By Default
Author: Jim

Minimalism By Default |

It’s Minimalism Week here on And Then We Saved! Today, get 15% off How to be a Fearless Minimalist in a Cluttered World by pre-ordering! Read more about the guide here or click here to pre-order the all-inclusive guide now

Today we’re sharing Jim’s story. He’s a fellow Coloradan and he became a minimalist by default. Below is his story… – Anna


Not wanting to work with my soon to be ex-wife and her soon to be next husband, I took a new job some distance from home. I spent the following two months getting that home ready for sale. When the Colorado snow moved in, an hour commute became well over two. Needing to be at work on time I bought a zero degree sleeping bag and began sleeping in the back of my truck between shifts. I boiled down my life to exist out of my truck and eliminate the commute. Small bag of clothes, toiletries, a cooler. This was only supposed to be temporary. A means to an end. Sell the house, find a place closer to work and start over.

Start over buying all the stuff I was now getting rid of. Get rid of the couch, then eventually buy a new one. Dump the TV, buy another. Kitchen supplies, those too. I have seriously lost 3 or 4 meat thermometers at the end of relationships. This was my plan, get rid of everything then ‘start over,’ trading my future labor to do it. Growing up in New Jersey in the 90s this is what I learned. You get married, then divorced, then lose half your stuff, then spend the next several years buying the stuff you lost, then do it again. It was common and I thought I was no different.

Read More »


in Minimalism
How to Retire With an Extra $1,000,000 in the Bank
Author: Anna Newell Jones

How to retire with an extra million dollars in the bank |

Are you looking for an easy way to add an extra $1,000,000 to your retirement bucket? It’s simple — go vegan. If you become vegan, not only will you be helping to save the planet from worldwide food shortages within thirty years but, you’ll also save an average of $2,600 a year on food expenses (and about $7,500 a year if you have a vegan spouse and two vegan kids). If you only reinvest your $2,600 in the stock market every year and earn an average return of 8%, after 44 years, you and your spouse will retire with an extra $1,051,000. And if you wait 45 years, you and your spouse will retire with an extra $1,141,000!.

So why is going vegan so much cheaper?

Read More »


in Do Without, Environment, Food, Groceries, & Recipes
6 Suggestions To Help You Work Multiple Jobs at Once
Author: Anna Newell Jones

6 suggestions to help you work mutliple jobs at once |

Working two jobs is an excellent way to add more income into your life. Whether you are saving up, or trying to get out of debt, however, working two jobs is not always easy. Taking good care of yourself is a complete necessity if you want to avoid burn out.

On and off, for years, I have worked two jobs. I have done so either to just make rent, while still pursuing career aspirations, or to pay off debt faster (which is what I am doing right now). Here are my suggestions to succeed at more hours in your work week so that you can be more productive and accomplish your financial goals:

Suggestion #1: Don’t lose sight of yourself
You have decided to finally pay off those student loans, save for a vacation, or build an investment portfolio! Working more is a great way to accomplish these goals. However, you are a person today with people who you love and other (non-financial) goals. Continue to meet friends for board game night and work on perfecting your Downward Dog. It is all too easy to get swept up in work mode, while congratulating your savings account. It can become addicting—and fast. If you are offered what would cumulatively be your 9th day of work or overtime—think about it before jumping to the numbers in your checking account. Sometimes (when you can) say no, and go home or meet friends for pizza. Your work will actually benefit from it.

Suggestion #2: Stick up for yourself (to piggyback on Suggestion #1)
If you have already made plans and you get a call to come into work, don’t skip out on those plans just to add the hours to your paycheck; you will know the situations when you’ll HAVE to skip out of plans and head into work—but it should never become the norm. Get time for you, no matter what it is that you’d like to do. Read More »


in Career & Work
Real Life Spending Faster: Katie
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Real Life Spending Faster |

My name is Katie. I’m 25 years old and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently I work in the vocational field, helping people with disabilities find integrated employment in their communities! I make about $35,000 a year, which is less than my graduate degree actually cost to earn. (Big sigh.) Right now I have about $83,000 of debt — about $73,000 of that is federal school loans, and the other $10,000 is a loan that I took out to purchase a vehicle this past January when my old car was on its last leg. I have no children and live on my own, but I have a long-distance boyfriend. I rent my one-bedroom apartment, which is about $725 a month. My upcoming plans are to move in with my boyfriend, get a job that allows me to advance my professional career, and start the next grown-up chapter in my life!

I started my Spending Fast last summer (August 2014), so I’ve been in it for about a year. After attending graduate school to become a professional counselor, my goal was to find a job that would allow me to work toward my licensure (you have to have so many hours of work in before you can get the state license to practice). I’ve taken a job in the related field of vocational counseling, but without my license, I have been making less money than I will in the future.

Read More »


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
19 Creative Tips to Get Your Frugal Juices Flowing
Author: Anna Newell Jones

19 ways to get those frugal juices flowing |

In my early 20s, I was a complete financial moron. I was the poster child for how you should not use your student loan money and credit cards.

So far I’ve paid back $19K on my credit cards, and I’m down to $0 (YESSSSSS!!). Plus, I’m also chipping away at my student loan debt. You will find some tips below that are helping me in my debt-free journey.

1. Raid the Work Cupboard – If you work in an office like me, people are always leaving their coffee cups, plastic containers, and travel mugs behind. Be sure you ask your colleagues before you grab, but that coffee mug that’s been sitting there for 2 years? Pretty sure no one is coming back for it.

2. Free Sample Websites – Check out this website. It is my most favorite website for real free stuff. I’ve gotten free clothing, free food, and even money! Be sure you check daily because the items there tend to go quickly.

Read More »


in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), How To, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions
Jenn’s Spending Fast Update (Months 7-9)
Author: Jenn Davis

Note from Anna: Apologies for being behind in getting Jennifer’s post up.

Where to start?

My last update was in April.

I fell off the wagon and spent some money on clothes—and overall I wasn’t successful in paying any debt off for the month of May (month 7). Falling off the wagon happens to everyone, but I find that I especially have trouble. Whether with the Spending Fast, fitness goals, or goals in general, I have to find patience. Patience with myself, and with how long it takes to see results. I want results right away, usually right after a declaration of a goal.

With that said, I’ve found that these tips have helped me to develop being  patience:

Read More »


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
September’s Collective Savings are In!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

andthenwesaved collective savings

September’s Collective Savings totals are in! In September we saved $31,652.91! That brings our Collective Savings to a whopping $868,008.21!! SO impressive!!

If you have been thinking about getting out of debt but just haven’t taken the leap yet why not do it today? Here’s the link to the Get Out of Debt Pledge. Why not change your life by getting the heck out of debt already? Finally getting out of debt is THE BEST gift you could ever give to yourself, and having the weight of the debt lifted is one of the most incredible feelings ever. You can absolutely have a debt free life too!


in Savings, Savings Total
The Prepaid Card Grocery Experiment – Update!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

prepaid grocery card experiment update

Last month, I wrote about how we were going to start a prepaid card grocery budget experiment in an attempt to get our ever increasingly out of control grocery budget under control. We’ve been doing the experiment for a month now, and today, I have an update for you on how things have been going.

As I mentioned in the first post we decided to use the Prepaid Visa® RushCard because of its clear fee structure and we can use it everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

At the beginning of the month I transferred the designated grocery budget amount onto the card online. That amount was $250. The one-time $3.95 fee for the cost of the physical card was deducted from our balance along with the $7.95 for the monthly fee of using the card (the fee would be $5.95 if we were directly depositing our paycheck…). That meant our starting budget went from $250 to $238.10.

Let’s talk about some of the PROS and CONS that we’ve encountered so far with using this system.

Read More »


in Sponsored
9 Spending Fast Mantras to Live By – Sign Up to Get Yours!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

You’ve decided to commit to a Spending Fast. Awesome!

It’s a great feeling to knock out debt and build up your savings.

But it’s not such a great feeling to overcome buyer’s remorse when you find that you’ve bought yet ANOTHER thing that you just had to have, only to realize you didn’t really need it.

So how do you stay on track with your Spending Fast when you’re tempted to “fall off the wagon” and when life’s temptations creep up on you and start whispering those familiar sweet nothings into your ear? Read More »


in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Giveaway, Motivation, Savings, Spending Fast
Melanie vs. The Spending Diet – Update
Author: Melanie Gnau

spending diet


Melanie is sharing her Spending Diet adventures with us, and she’s got her July update for us below. We’ll get August’s update up before you know it, and then we’ll be back on track in no time for September. I’m telling ya, we’ve got a plan, folks. She’ll take it from here. xo, Anna


Ok, so first things first, this was so much harder than I imagined. I went over my allowance of $100 in the first two weeks! I am ashamed and to be honest I was a little shocked. (I feel like I’m such a saver!) But I learned from my digressions and I’m ready to get serious.


I went $100 over my spending limit in July for two reasons:


#1 – I didn’t immediately get cash out of the bank at the first of the month like I said I would.

Hey, I’m lazy and I hate making trips to the ATM. Instead, I told myself I’d just write down what I spent. What a joke. If I’m too lazy to go to the ATM, I’m too lazy to write down everything I spend. Now at the first of each month, I am vowing to get out my $100 spending budget and stick to only spending cash on my “Wants.” I’m also leaving my debit card at home so I can’t be tempted by that trickster. (I’m keeping my credit card on me for emergencies.)


#2 – I was too strict with my food budget.

I just simply didn’t budget enough for food. I hate buying food even though it’s a necessity. I thought by giving myself a super strict limit, I would spend less. Wrong! I spent more because I ran out of food and had to make extra trips to the grocery store. I’m going to give myself $50 more to spend on food each month because a girl has to eat. To even out the budget, I’m cutting my gym membership. I love it but I don’t use it often enough. I ordered some infomercial DVDs a while back and I’ve been hitting those harder than I ever hit the gym.


I still managed to save $1,000 this month which I consider a success. I also got real with myself. Looking back on this month, I realize that I spend more money than I should going out with friends. Instead of going out with friends, I’m going to convince my friends that we should cook at home– even if that means I do all the cooking! I’ve even started fermenting my own wine which has been super fun and much cheaper than wine at a bar or restaurant.

I have high hopes for next month. I’m taking on a side job to earn more income and I took out my $100 allowance as soon as I got paid.

Here’s to hoping next month’s spending diet report looks better than the last! Melanie


in Do Without, Paying Off Debt, Spending Diet, Spending Fasters
Start Where You Are
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Start Where You Are

“Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can.” – Arthur Ashe


in Motivation
I Can Do This.
Author: Anna Newell Jones

tell yourself you can do it

You have to get up every morning and say to yourself, “I can do this.” Because, you can. Getting out of debt and changing habits is hard… there is no doubt about that but it is possible to live in a new way!


in Motivation
The Decision to Try…
Author: Anna Newell Jones

every accomplishment starts with the decision to try

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Make 2014 the year that you conquer your debt! You can do it!

Take the Get Out of Debt Pledge and change your life forever!


in Motivation
Don’t Give Up…
Author: Anna Newell Jones

dont give up before you start


So many times I hear people tell me all the reasons why they can’t do the Spending Fast. Come on now, give it a chance before you give up! You can choose to give yourself the best gift ever this season- a life without debt! It is TOTALLY POSSIBLE! And really, please, don’t give up before you even start! You CAN do this!

Go ahead and take the leap… change your life with the Debt Free Life Pledge today.

one comment

in Motivation
Gratitude Unlocks the Fullness…
Author: Anna Newell Jones

gratitude unlocks fullness

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” – Melody Beattie

I’ve got so much to be grateful for these days…

What are you grateful for today?


in Gratitude, Motivation
Make Your Own Luck
Author: Anna Newell Jones

make your own luck Stop waiting for a winning lottery ticket. Go ahead, you CAN make your own luck and you can definitely make your own miracle!


in Motivation
Let’s Talk, A Heart-to-Heart Pep Talk From Me to You
Author: Anna Newell Jones

nothing worth having comes

Anyone who has a significant amount of debt can tell you that trying to eliminate that debt is hard work because nothing worth having comes easy.

Getting out of debt IS absolutely, completely worth it but it is generally, not an easy process. But, get this- you/me/we CAN do hard things. The secret is to keep going. Keep going when you do not want to and when your motivation starts to fade. Remember back when you decided you wanted to get rid of your debt? Remember when you signed the Get Out of Debt Pledge and decided you were going to change your life? Remember how excited you were and how you were committed to doing whatever needed to be done to get out of debt?! I want you to go back to that place and time and reactivate that drive and motivation.

I want you to know that it’s normal to have wavering motivation. Sacrificing stuff sucks. Turning down trips, concerts, dinners out can be a total bummer, and that’s okay be sad about sacrifices! Remember WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Recommit and get the heck back on that money-saving train! I want you to have a new life. You deserve to be free from debt and you deserve to have that terrible, soul-sucking debt cloud removed from your life. You deserve to walk lighter and to hold your head higher. You deserve guilt-free vacations. You deserve that new pair of shoes or fancy, delicious coffee and warm morning muffin on the way to work once in a while but you deserve them guilt-free! You deserve to know that you can set your mind to something, and that you can actually accomplish it. You deserve to have ZERO DEBT. You deserve to have freedom! You deserve autonomy! You deserve all the best that life has to offer and let me tell you, nothing feels as good as being debt-free. Do it for you. Getting out of debt is the best gift you could ever, ever give to yourself!

Still not convinced that lacking motivation is part of the getting-out-of-debt process? This is how it all went down for me (in a nutshell)…

Read More »


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Personal, Student Loans
13 Ways To Bust Out of a Rut
Author: Lauren Mikus

13 ways to bust out of a rut

I’m in a bit of a rut myself, and without much justification. Isn’t it funny that no matter how many blessings we have to be thankful for, we find a way to focus on the one trial or tribulation that’s got us down? Whether everything seems to be going astray, or one nagging thought just won’t leave you alone – I’ve got good news. We’re in this together. Let’s lean on one another, and this list, to get back to the bright side.

13 Ways to Bust Out of That Rut Right Now!

Read More »


in Motivation, Practical Solutions
25 Free INSTANT Mood Boosters
Author: Chelsea Overton

25 free instant mood boosters

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

Being on a year-long Spending Fast is awesome for finances but not always so awesome for the brain. It is easy to get bummed out that we can’t go shopping with our friends or buy the latest nail polish colors.

25 Free INSTANT Mood Boosters…

Read More »


in Simple Living, Spending Fast
Month Three Totals- Tales from the Spending Fast Trenches
Author: Chelsea Overton

spending fast savings totals

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

I am now into month four of my Spending Fast! About a month ago I had to uproot my life and move to a new state suddenly. Since I was not expecting it, I had not saved up a lot of money to move with so my Spending Fast had to take a temporary break. I didn’t go crazy and go shopping or anything, but I was not able to put the amount of money towards my debt that I had anticipated. Since time doesn’t stop, my month three totals are finally in but let me warn you, they are sad!

My original day 1 debt: $24,996.98

My total starting month three: $23,514.05

Month three debt paid: $11.51

New debt total: $23,502.54

Who pays $11.51 to their debt??! I actually paid a lot more but had to use my credit card quite a bit in the interim so I came out $11.51 on top. At least I came out ahead! (Anna saved $0. during Month 17 of her Spending Fast so I guess it’s normal to have some really great savings months and others that aren’t so awesome.)

Last week I wrote about having two job offers and not knowing which to choose. Well, I have chosen the second job (which pays $3 an hour more) and start next Monday! I am very excited about this new position because it is with a very large company with lots of room to work hard and advance.

Now that my life is circling back towards stability, I am reclaiming my focus and my Spending Fast goals. I am spending a few days visiting my family and while I am here I am listing their unwanted items online. They have agreed that if I sell their stuff, I can get a certain percentage for my effort. And that certain percentage is going towards my debt. I’m excited to see how it will play out.

I have a lot of extra free time lately so instead of sleeping all day and being sad, I am focusing on learning graphic design. I already had the computer programs needed to learn and How To books. What was I waiting for? I am learning this because I enjoy design but also because once I gain design skills, I can start freelancing that too!

I am excited about this new phase of my life and hopeful that it will bring great (money-making/debt paying) things.


Have you ever not met your Spending Fast monthly goal (or any goal you set out to achieve)? What are some ways you stay inspired during that time?

Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. She also has her own website where she logs her journey towards financial freedom.


in Spending Fast, Spending Fasters, Take Action!
15 Side Gigs to Make More Money Today
Author: Lauren Mikus

15 side gigs to make more money

Marching out of debt requires a lot of energy, there’s no doubt about it.  As we discuss here on And Then We Saved, working towards a debt-free lifestyle is not just about reducing your spending.  It’s about creating additional income for yourself by getting resourceful… or let’s just go there – downright scrappy.  The key is to find ways to monetize the activities that you naturally enjoy doing.  Take the “free” out of your free time by sharing your passions to help benefit others and earn extra cash.

15 Side Gigs to Make More Money…
Read More »


in Career & Work, Make More Money, Things To Do
Turns Out, Change is Great!
Author: Chelsea Overton

change is great

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

Change can be such a scary concept! Leaving the life rituals that you are used to and starting something new seems almost suffocating at times.

I was living in Ohio and having to work two jobs because after seven months of living there, I still couldn’t find full time employment. The world as I knew it ended and here I am, three weeks later, sitting in my new apartment in North Carolina with not one but two full time job offers. I have no idea which one to pick! How did I get to this point? Does it matter? What an awesome predicament!

Change is awkward and uncomfortable and unfamiliar but sometimes it’s good. Although I am very lonely and unhappy about my recent relationship split, I now have time to focus on my career. Which, when on a Spending Fast, is a great thing! What do I wanna be when I grow up? I have no idea! Now is a great time to channel my energy into figuring that out.

During the move, the bottom drawer to my dresser decided to break. My apartment has a big enough closet that all of my dresser items can fit inside it. As I was starting to take the dresser to the dumpster, I realized that I don’t have a desk. And a desk is really just a dresser without the drawers! So I took that bad boy back inside and started unscrewing the drawer brackets. After about 30 minutes of work, I have a new desk! It got beat up a bit in the move so I will have to paint it but instead of spending money on a desk, I created a free one. I changed something familiar into something new and useful.

After thinking about it, isn’t that what being on a Spending Fast and paying off debt is all about? Deciding to commit to the change instead of pushing against it. Changing your spending habits may seem weird and uncomfortable now but in the long run, it’s going to be beautiful and make your life more functional.


What are some ways a life change turned out surprisingly well when at first you weren’t sure it’d all work out okay?

Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. 


in Motivation, Spending Fast
Surviving Unexpected Life Events During Your Spending Fast
Author: Chelsea Overton

surviving unexpected life events

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

Imagine with me for a second that you are cruising along in life, adhering to your Spending Fast contract, when you suddenly lose your job. What would you do? Let’s take it a step further and say that the same day you lost your job, you also lost your house. A bit far-fetched, but just hang in there. What if in that same day you not only lost your job and your house but you also lost your romantic partner AND you had to immediately move out of the state. Your life was great and within one day, everything changed dramatically and you had absolutely no power to stop it from happening.

Welcome to the last 14 days of my life. When this article gets published, it will be exactly two weeks from the day that all of these things happened to me. My partner told me that he wished to terminate the relationship and I moved from Ohio to North Carolina. My column is about transparency and how to survive/succeed on a Spending Fast. While today should have been the day when I announce my grand totals for Month Three, life has thrown me a curve ball and the Spending Fast had to face some challenges.

How I’ve Been Surviving Unexpected Life Events During My Spending Fast… 

Read More »


in Spending Fast, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
How To Figure Out Your Skills & Sell Them For Cash
Author: Chelsea Overton

how to figure out your skills and sell them for cash

This is a post by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®.

Since starting my Spending Fast a little over three months ago, I have learned quite a bit more about myself than expected. One of the main things is that I have a lot of marketable talent that I completely didn’t realize. Last Monday I started a new job (hallelujah) and my title went from “Clerk” to “Information Technology Specialist.” I tell you this because my college degree is in Spanish. I have no formal training in computers, I just happen to enjoy working with computers. I realized this a few months ago and added my skills to my resume. After meeting a new friend, I mentioned to her that I was good with technology and she told her boss; the rest is history.

How To Figure Out Your Skills and Sell Them for Cash… 

Read More »


in How To, Make More Money, Spending Fast
17 Things To Do Today That Will Make You Proud of Yourself in a Year
Author: Lauren Mikus

how to be proud of yourself in a year

It’s been said that if you can change one bad habit, you’re likely to change another. This list will show you how being responsible pays (literally). In just one year, watch how making these small investments or spending habit adjustments will implement lasting benefits in your lifestyle.

You can absolutely have a better life! Might as well start today!

17 Things to do Today That Will Make You Proud of Yourself in a Year… 

Read More »


in Bartering, Goals, How To, Practical Solutions
5 Benefits of Being on a Spending Fast
Author: Chelsea Overton

benefits of being on a spending fast

This post is by Chelsea who is currently doing a Spending Fast®. 

Being on a Spending Fast can seem like such a drag! Since starting my third month of no spending, I have realized that being on this Spending Fast is actually awesome! I know what you are thinking, just hear me out. Obviously I wish that I didn’t have debt and could buy anything that I wanted. Instead, I have found that while on this year-long adventure, I have been able to do some really cool, unexpected things…for free!

Since my boyfriend and I aren’t going out on the town like we used to, I have become a little creative with my time.

The Benefits to Being on a Spending Fast…

Read More »


in Simple Living, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
The Power of Setting Goals- In the Spending Fast Trenches
Author: Chelsea Overton

the power of setting goals

This is a guest post by Chelsea who is documenting her Spending Fast here on ATWS…

After paying over $1,200 towards my $25,000 debt in the first month, I knew the following months of my Spending Fast would be tough. Initially I felt empowered and excited to pay that much towards my debt,  but then doubt set in. What if I can’t even come close to that amount in the following months? What if I run out of things to sell on eBay? What if I hit a Spending Fast plateau?

I’m three weeks into my second month and while I don’t know specifics yet, I think I’ve paid around $100 this month on my debt. HOW TERRIBLE! Wait, that’s not terrible! I have a constant battle in my head that goes from one extreme to the other. I needed to find a way to calm my thoughts while remaining motivated.

It was time for a monthly payment goal!  Not only are goals great motivators, they’re also awesome at putting self-doubt at bay. Originally my goal was to put $1,000 towards my debt each month. This is an excellent goal but not very realistic. Goals need to be motivational, not discouraging. At $12.25 an hour, dropping a Grand each month is unlikely. I have set my new goal at paying $500 monthly. I feel that $500 is something that’s attainable and if I get awesome and exceed it then, well, that rocks! If there has been one thing I’ve learned these past few weeks, it’s that keeping things positive is a requirement for my Spending Fast journey.

So instead of being discouraged, I’m now excited. I still have a week to earn more money and meet my goal. Last Friday, I cruised over to Craigslist and saw that someone was hiring someone to address envelopes. I met this Craigslist gentleman and was handed a bag with over 600 envelopes and a list of addresses. He also gave me over 3,400 Post-It notes to write on, if I happen to finish the envelopes.

Let’s just say this past weekend was an unusual one. I am receiving ten cents per envelope (and Post-It) I complete. While ten cents isn’t much money, ten cents times 4,000 is a good amount. Completing this project isn’t glamorous or going to make me rich, but it is going to help me achieve my monthly goal.

If you are on a Spending Fast along with me, I encourage you to make goals. After you make them, really think about if they are attainable. There is nothing worse than setting yourself up for failure. I am on this Spending Fast because I know I can create my own future. Establishing a goal and getting creative in order to meet it is going to help me get there.

Next week I will be reporting back with my Month Two totals. I hope you stay tuned!

Chelsea Overton is in the midst of her Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena, and boyfriend by her side. 


in Goals, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters
The Only Joy is to Begin
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the only joy in the world is to begin

“The Only Joy in the World is to Begin.” – Cesare Pavese

It doesn’t have to be January 1st to change your life. No matter the date, make the decision to start.

If you want to change your life, you can!

Today is THE DAY to go for it! Why the heck not? Let’s do this!


in Motivation
Don’t Underestimate Your Capacity for Change
Author: Anna Newell Jones

don't underestimate your capacity for change

“People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.”

Well said, Mr. Porter. So, whatcha’ waiting for;)? Change your life already!


in Motivation
2013 Calendar – A Year of Living Awesomely!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

2013 calendar

2013 calendar

2013 calendar

This 2013 calendar is all about filling you with hope, reminding you to make the most of each day, and helping you strengthen your resolve to live each day awesomely.

I designed the whole thing so every time you look at the calendar think of it as me cheering you along!


details: $11.95, 6″x9″, cover, hard backing, hole at the top for easy hanging

**Calendars are sold out. Thank you! xo!


in Motivation, Personal
Your Debt is a Punk and Wants to Break Up With You
Author: Anna Newell Jones

end debt

I have a little bit of bad news. Your debt called me the other day and we had a long talk. There were tears, lots and lots of tears but overall is was a good talk. Well, it turns out that  your debt is a complete punk and wants to break up with you. You’ve been together far too long (you know it’s not working out either), and it’s time to part ways. It’s a bad relationship and it doesn’t bring out the best in you. It’s been a good run but let’s be honest- it’s time to move along. There are way better things waiting for you out there.

8 Reasons Why Your Debt Wants to Break Up With You Right Now…
Read More »


in Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Change Your Life – Start Today
Author: Anna Newell Jones

change your life

Do you want a new life; one that’s not full of guilt and shame from overspending and getting yourself deeper and deeper into the hole?

You can have the life you want! Seriously, you really CAN do this!
Read More »


in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Take Action!, Things To Do
Dramatically Increase The Quality of Your Life
Author: Anna Newell Jones

tips for a better quality of life

When I consistently follow these 6 tips my mind instantly feels more calm, my life feels more organized, and everything seems to go a lot smoother.

Even better? All of these tips are completely free, and quick. No special equipment needed to start having a dramatically increased quality of life today.


How to Have an Instantly Better Quality of Life…
Read More »


in De-Clutter, Gratitude, How To, Practical Solutions, Simple Living, Things To Do
Chasing Happiness and Other Noble Goals
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the happiest people quote

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything.” -Unknown

Aren’t we all chasing happiness? Isn’t that why we want out of debt anyway? So we can be happy and so we can be free?

Read More »


in Goals, Money, Motivation
Stop Apologizing For Your Existence- Why Saying “I’m Sorry” Undermines You
Author: Anna Newell Jones

stop apologizing for your existence

You know those situations when you’re opening the door to (usually) a public bathroom and someone else is trying to come out of the door at very same time? Do you hear yourself saying, “I’m sorry” and not “Excuse me”?

I started noticing that I was saying “I’m sorry” ALL THE TIME Read More »


in Social, Societal Pressures, Take Action!, Things To Do
Commitment (& Restrictions) Can Be Deeply Liberating
Author: Anna Newell Jones

the irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating anne morris quote

Once I decided to be done with my debt my whole relationship with money changed.

I was finally REALLY ready to be done with debt for good. I was committed to the process and it was time to take action.

The Spending Fast can seem very restrictive (because it is) but it was surprisingly freeing to have those restrictions. I no longer had to feel guilty about shopping and spending. If an item was on the “needs” side of my “wants and needs list” I could buy it was and if it wasn’t on the “needs” side of the list, I didn’t buy it.

To buy or not buy was clear-cut. There was no grey area. To have those limitations was a relief.


Have you ever had limitations put on you only to found that you were less stifled than anticipated?


in Goals, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
How To Do A Spending Fast® and Get Out of Debt Quick!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

spending fast

A Spending Fast ® is considered an extreme but very effective method of getting out of debt quickly. A Spending Fast works through the elimination of all “non-need” spending.

I did a Spending Fast and I substantially improved my financial situation by paying off $23,605.10 in debt. It only took 15 months and I couldn’t believe it! Because I’m now debt-free I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. I’m able to be autonomous and I’m able to focus on my goals without having debt hanging over my head and affecting all of my decisions.

There are a few things to think about before you start your own Spending Fast and all of these elements will affect how fast you are able to become debt-free.

These Factors Will Affect Your Spending Fast ® 

  • Your income
  • The total amount of debt you have
  • How much spending you decide to cut out
  • How committed you are to the process
  • The duration of time that you chose for your Spending Fast
  • How much money you can make by selling your unused possessions
  • What you chose to do to generate additional income and how much money you can bring in with the side job(s)

When I finally decided that I had to be done with my debt my life completely changed, mainly because I was finally willing to do whatever I needed to do to be done with my debt once and for all. The cycle of debt, guilt, and remorse had to end.

Life is so much better on this side — the debt-free side! If you’re ready to change your life and if you’re ready to get rid of your debt quickly, this is how to do a Spending Fast. You can do this!


How To Do A Spending Fast ®…

1. List Your Debts and Their Interest Rates

Make a list of all your bills, and then write the highest-interest rate bill at the top of the list with the lowest interest rate bill at the bottom of the list. This will determine the order in which you will eliminate each bill: highest interest rate bill to the lowest interest rate bill.

2. Ask Your Creditors for Lower Interest Rates

Call the credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate. They just might do it so it’s worth a shot to call them and ask.

3. Picture the Life You Dream of Living

Determine your priorities by putting actual pen to paper and by writing down your ideal life. What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work for a living? How would you spend your time, and when are you the most happy? Ask yourself, “Is there any way I can reach my goals with the debt I have?” If the answer is “no” and you don’t feel good about it, then it’s time to start thinking about making some serious changes. Be very honest with yourself. Do you find that you’re making decisions about things to do (or not do) based on the amount of debt you have? Does your debt prevent you from living a life that is true to you? Does your debt (and your obligation to it) pull you and angle your decisions in even the subtlest ways?

4. Make The Commitment To Be Done With Debt Once and for All

If you’re not ready to be done with your debt, then you might want to try some other methods first. The Spending Fast technique requires a lot of commitment and dedication. A Spending Fast is a way to get extreme results in a relatively short amount of time, but you have to be ready to go forward full-force with it. Your life will change and it will affect every area of life. Getting out of debt and committing to the Spending Fast is worth it, it’s just not easy!

5. If You’re Partnered, Try to Get Them to Do the Spending Fast With You

It’s a lot easier to change your life if your partner is on board but, if they aren’t, then consider doing the Spending Fast solo (I did it that way). Separate bank accounts are very helpful if you’re doing the Spending Fast solo.

6. Set a Time-Frame for Your Spending Fast

I recommend a year, so you can get past the difficult beginning part (where all your habits are getting changed) and into the real benefits part (where your debt is getting paid off). A year can seem long day-to-day but at the end of the year you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by. If you chose to do a weekend-long spending fast, a week-long spending fast, a couple months or a year, you will still get results and it will still positively affect your financial situation.

7. Make a Public Declaration of Your Desire to Become Debt-Free

Tell your friends and family about your decision to do a Spending Fast so you can have the accountability that comes along with it. In addition to telling your family and friends, take the Debt-Free Life Pledge, and read the entries from others who are committed to getting out of debt too (it’s super inspiring to read the pledges and I always read them when I need extra motivation).

8. Create a “Wants and Needs” List

The “wants and needs” list is the backbone of the spending fast. On the “needs” list include just the necessities needed to live: rent, food, utilities, etc. On the “wants” list, put everything that is an “extra” in your life. Things that went on this side of the list for me were items like clothes, coffee at coffee shops, movies in the theater, gifts, bed linens, new music, new make-up, shoes, etc. (Here is my original Spending Fast *Wants and Needs* list – 1/4 of the way from the top of the page.) The *Wants and Needs* list can (and will) be different based on each person’s varying priorities in life. If you decide that something should be on your needs list that wasn’t on mine that’s okay! Just try not to justify adding things just to make it easier. You can do this!

9. Spend Money on the “Needs” Side of the List Only

This is the simple-but-not-easy part of the Spending Fast.

10. Think About What You Can Buy Rather Than What You Can’t

If find yourself starting to feel bummed out when you’re in the thick of the Spending Fast, try to shift your perspective, because it will do wonders for your morale. Remember to keep having fun (just the free kind). Remember that the Spending Fast isn’t forever. There is a light at the end of the tunnel (that’s why you set a time-frame at the start), and remind yourself of why you’re doing the Spending Fast in the first place — it’s to get out of debt once-and-for-all and to change your life! Look at the list you made in step #3 when your morale gets low.

11. Become Immersed in a Community of Like-Minded People

Get involved in the And Then Whe Saved Community. This is where people share their questions, struggles, accomplishments, set-backs, tips, tricks, and most importantly, their getting-out-of-debt successes. It’s a great place to get a reminder that we aren’t alone in our dreams to live debt-free lives.

12. Attack Your Debts

At the end of the month, send all the money that is left in your account to the bill that has the highest interest rate. Continue to send the minimum due on your other bills. Once a bill gets knocked out, be proud of yourself! You’re really doing it! You’re becoming debt-free! Next, start working on the next highest interest rate bill on the list. Become competitive with yourself; try to get better numbers than the previous month and keep track of your savings from month-to-month. To be able to see all of the savings at the end of the year is amazing.

13 & 14. Be Committed to the Process and Continue With the Spending Fast Until You Reach Your End Date

It’s unrealistic to think that “mistakes” won’t happen so keep going even when they (inevitably) occur so when they do, re-focus, and get back at you. Stick with the Spending Fast for the entire time-frame you committed yourself to. If you reach your goal of paying off your debt and you happen to do it before your predetermined end date (um, awesome!), then why not keep going? Squirrel away the extra money and prepare yourself for the next step — financial security.

15. Be Proud of Yourself for What You Accomplished — Big or Small

When you come to the end of your Spending Fast, look back on all you were able to do. Being proactive and being willing to take charge of your life and finances is definitely something to be proud of!

Throughout the Spending Fast, always be on the look-out for ways to cut the “needs” list down even more, get creative with ways to save money, and be willing to make things yourself in an effort to save.

Before you know it, saving will become (unbelievably) more fun than spending and your financial life will be forever changed!


Spending Fast ® is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.


in Do Without, How To, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Spending Fast, Spending Fasters, Staying Out of Debt, Take Action!
10 Ways To Have A Simpler, More Mindful Life
Author: Anna Newell Jones

When I came across Karen Maezen Miller’s tips for a mindful home I just about lost it. All of her suggestions make sense it that, “Duh, of course!” sort of way. I particularly love the “set a timer” tip. She’s really completely brilliant.

Karen Maezen Miller’s tips for a mindful home…

Is living a simpler life something you try to do? If so, how do you do it?


in De-Clutter, Do Without, Practical Solutions, Simple Living, Things To Do
A New Direction + Living Authentically
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Living Authentically
It’s weird to think about how things in life change. I first started this blog to keep me accountable as I started my Spending Fast and slowly crawled out from under my debt. It proved to work- it kept me honest and it helped to keep me motivated to stay on course so I didn’t mess up. I partly didn’t want to mess up because I didn’t want to have to tell you about it here; that little bit of pride was useful.

After 15 months I found myself out of debt (still unbelievable sometimes) and the blog started to reflect my process of learning how to spend “normally”. I was continually asking myself, “What does ‘spending normally’ look like?”, “How do I not get myself BACK into debt?” and, “How do I stay motivated to not over-spend?” And, more than anything, “How do I not slip back into my old ways?”

Now, I feel the blog is ready to go into another new direction. For the site to have authenticity, and for me to continue to be enthusiastic about writing it, it must be true to where I’m at in life.

You may have noticed the new tagline, “Saving where I can, so I can spend where I want.” That reflects more of where I’m at these days.

I wanted to get out of debt in the 1st place so I could really enjoy life, and so I could do what I want without having the burden of the financial black-cloud hanging over my head. I could no longer handle the demoralizing feelings and guilt that came with having a crap-load of debt.

I like shopping, I like traveling, I like eating out, and I like going to the movies. I want to enjoy the fun stuff life has to offer, and I finally have choices. I want you to have that freedom too.

Financial freedom (for me) is all about autonomy. It’s about being able to make the decisions in my life that feel true to me. A life that’s honest. Day-to-day it looks like this: a simpler, less-cluttered life, and the ability to go on a trip or buy a new shirt if I want to without having the guilt and stress about adding to an already overwhelming amount of debt.

For me now, financial freedom is all about, saving where I can, so I can spend where I want.

What does living a life that’s true to you look like? How do you feel when you live authentically to when you don’t?


in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Personal, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt
It’s Live! It’s Really Live!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I cannot tell you how happy I am to welcome you to the new site! Mervi (and the whole team) over at Freckled Nest has been awesome with getting the site to look the way I want. Now, the site will (hopefully;) be a lot more user-friendly.

I’m super excited to get some brand-new money-saving, frugal-living, live-better-with-less posts posted! I’ve really missed blogging!

p.s. there are still a couple of glitches with the new site design, they’re getting worked on and they should be fixed soon:)


in Just For Fun
Look Fear In The Face and Do What You Think You Can’t
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”- John Wayne

There’s no doubt that changing your life and habits is hard work. I mean, you go from living in your comfort zone to flipping your whole life upside down. Often when people ask me about doing the Spending Fast and what it took to get out of debt I get the feeling that they want me to tell them that it was easy and that it didn’t change my day-to-day life all that much. But it did.

You know those people that say they lose weight and they didn’t have to do anything different? Like, “I eat cake for breakfast EVERYDAY and I lost weight! It’s a miracle!”

Doing a Spending Fast, and changing your relationship with money is hard work and it’s not like eating cake for breakfast everyday.

If you want to change your life, you have to change your life! That might seem like a silly thing to say but, really, if it was possible for me to keep doing what I was doing (spending money like crazy) and still get out of debt I would’ve picked that option. Changing your life and living debt-free takes work, time, and sacrifices. All of which are completely worth it when you come out on the other side debt-free and victorious but to think it won’t be hard work to get to that point – that’s just not reality.

I want to challenge you to look debt in the face and tell it to F- OFF! It’s time to be done with the debt and remorse and over-spending once and for all!

It’s scary to think about changing your life but you know what, it’s also so freaking exciting! By getting on the path to live a debt-free life you’re going to create a new future for yourself. One where you have choices and one where half your paycheck isn’t going to pay for stuff you’ve already forgotten about and have already donated to the thrift store.

I probably sound all pumped up in this post and it’s because I just read the latest Getting Out of Debt Pledgers posts and man, they just inspire the crap out of me.

So do it. Look fear in the face and saddle on up. It’s time to change your life.


in Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Take Action!
Collect Moments Not Things
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Seriously, such a freaking good reminder…

one comment

in Make Do & Mend, Motivation, Paying Off Debt
Free Admission To All National Parks This Week
Author: Anna Newell Jones

image by daveynin

This week, April 21-29th is National Parks Week and in honor of that the National Park Service is giving free admission all week long! Visiting a National Park showed up as #3 in this post of 8 Great, Cheap Summer Vacations and there are some other fun and inexpensive ideas included there if you’re due for a break from everyday life. 

Click on the link to find out more about the free National Park admission.


What is your favorite National Park?


in Seasonal, Things To Do, Travel Cheap
Online Budget Management With A Twist: SpringCoin
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Have you heard about SpringCoin? I found about it recently and it’s an interesting concept. They offer online budget management with a twist: it’s aimed at consumers who are struggling with debt.

SpringCoin compares a client’s debts and spending patterns, then recommends a manageable monthly payment to erase the debt. SpringCoin’s software compares your debts with your income and spending patterns, and then it spits out recommended monthly payments to help you pay down your debt.

That, I like.

For the month of April SpringCoin is giving away free lifetime accounts to And Then We Saved readers. Follow this link if you’re interested.


Have you tried any online debt management tools? What do you think about them? Do they work for you?

*Disclosure: SpringCoin is a sponsor of this site 


in Sponsored
It Takes A Lot of Guts To Change Your Life
Author: Anna Newell Jones

If you weren’t sure before today I’ve got to tell you, now’s the time to change your life.

You don’t need all that dang debt weighing you down and hanging over your head.

If you want to have a debt-free life you can! Believe it and make it happen.

Go for it! and walk through it all here. You’re totally not alone.

How do you change your life and habits?


in Do Without, Goals, How To, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!, Things To Do
Obsessed With Stuff. Materialism Gone Overboard.
Author: Anna Newell Jones

“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman

Yep. Kind of ridiculous (and completely true for most of us). Depressing much? Eeek… sorry:/

It reminds me of this quote by Chuck Palahniuk.


in Do Without, Enough (Crap, Debt, Guilt), Make Do & Mend, Societal Pressures, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized), Take Action!
Do You Play The Lottery? What About For 500 Million?
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I never play the lottery but last week I saw that the Mega Millions was up to $290 million so I bought a ticket. The slogan they have of “If you don’t play you can’t win” came right to my mind (that’s a sign of a great slogan, since it came to mind right as I was considering if I should buy a ticket or not).

So, I bought a ticket. Now, it looks like no one won last week’s drawing so the jackpot is up to $500 million!?!?!


With all the talk about the Mega Millions jackpot not being claimed last week it got me thinking about if I should put my name in the hat again this week. I can see this being a slippery slope since I don’t ever really do things in moderation. Have you noticed, moderation isn’t really my thing? I could see myself getting into a habit of wanting to enter every week, and thinking, “Well, it’s just a dollar!”

It’s so incredibly fun to day-dream about winning. How life would change and how it would stay the same (and if you would even want it to stay the same).

I freaked out when I found out an acquaintance of mine had won 6 million dollars in the Colorado Lottery 10 years ago. He keeps in on the down-low (for obvious reasons) and you would never guess that he won from just meeting him. He’s so down-to-earth and he’s a genuinely nice and kind person. He even let me interview him about THE BIG LOTTO WIN. I also like looking at this gallery of other former lottery winners and day-dreaming that I’m one of them;)


What would your plan be if you won? What would be the first thing you would buy? Who would be the first person you told? Are you buying a ticket?


in Just For Fun, Money
10¢ Night at Denver’s MCA
Author: Anna Newell Jones

If you don’t know me by now, I’ve got to tell you I’m officially a major cheapskate. That means I’m ALWAYS on the look-out for things to do around town that don’t cost money or are super, super cheap.

So, when I got the flyer in the mail yesterday from Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art and I saw that this Friday night, March 30th they are having a 10¢ entry fee for their newest exhibits (mainly photography) from 8pm to midnight well, I got a little excited.

10¢ = basically free = I like it.

What cheap things are you up to this weekend?


in Just For Fun, Paying Off Debt, Social, Staying Out of Debt, Things To Do
50 Free Things To Do In Denver This Spring
Author: Anna Newell Jones

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ve already seen this link that I shared earlier in the week BUT it’s so good that I have to post it here too. Just don’t want anyone to miss out on the crazy amount of FREE stuff happening in town!

50 Free Things To Do In Denver This Spring

If you live in Denver do you know of other free things to do that aren’t on this list? What fun, free (or super cheap) things are there to do in your city? Do you take part in the free events?


in Seasonal, Social, Things To Do
Recovering Lazyholic Wants vs Needs Print Giveaway! (CLOSED)
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Before the Spending Fast even officially started I asked Erin Hanson of Recovering Lazyholic fame if she might be okay with me using her artwork on my site. She said “Yes” and her Wants and Needs piece (above, which is officially titled Consumption) has been a constant reminder for me throughout the entire Spending Fast into the Spending Diet and right up to today to cut the spending out already!

“Want too many things. Need to want less.” I’m a Spender to the core and I’ve ALWAYS got to keep myself in check! My goal is to be debt-free for life so I’m staying committed to it. I just can’t go back into debt again. I just can’t.

Erin has graciously agreed to giving one lucky reader a print of her piece Consumption. You’ll be able to see this reminder everyday as you reach towards your financial goals. Love this giveaway!


5 Ways To Win!

1. Mandatory- Like Recovering Lazyholic on Facebook

For additional entries:

2. Like And Then We Saved on Facebook

3. Follow And Then We Saved on Twitter

4. Write about this Giveaway on your blog or site

5. Tweet this phrase “I just entered the giveaway to win the Wants vs. Needs print on! @andthenwesaved”


* Leave a separate comment below after you do the above entry options indicating which way you’ve entered. The lucky winner will be selected Sunday night at 8pm Mountain time!

*Be sure to enter your name and email address in the required fields when you comment so I can contact the winner.


in Giveaway
Accessories Swap Video by Ben Simkins
Author: Anna Newell Jones Accessories Swap Sponsored by from on Vimeo.


Missed the Accessories Swap? Here’s a great video that Ben Simkins created for I love the part when the swap opens and all the ladies are running and picking up items (at the 1:28 mark;)

one comment

in Clothing/Accessories Swap, Video Post
Favorite Weekend Finds
Author: Anna Newell Jones

I was poking around on the internet this morning and found some fun things…

Love this cheerful room. Neon and fringe unite!

A cheap way to add some personality to simple shoes. (Might suggest this idea to my sister for her wedding this fall;)

No need to buy speakers. This is a brilliant idea!

All out of eye make-up remover? No need to fear. Here’s a DIY version. (Thanks to Jenny for the lead on this one)

If money wasn’t an issue I’d like to buy this and this.

Some Saturdays (this one) call for this station.

Are you as busy as you think you are? via A Cup of Jo

Another used coffee grounds scrub! Love the name of it too. (here’s my used coffee grounds exfoliator experience)

Mad style in a denim suit.

This song (and this one) makes me want to run/dance/have a homemade dance party.

It’s fun to day-dream about my Dream Home. (Do you have a Dream House?)

Remember this everyday.


What are you up to this weekend? 


in Just For Fun
8 Ways To Save Money While Traveling – Part 1
Author: Alexandra Baackes

image courtesy of alex baackes. photo taken in scotland

Summer is coming up quick (thank goodness) and with the warm weather also comes traveling.

The question then becomes, “How do I visit the places I dream of if I don’t have much money? And then when I get there, how do I maximize my funds to stretch them the farthest?”

Alex Baackes is one of those people who has the goal of traveling the the world. She’s done a good amount of traveling and has learned some money saving tips along the way. Today, she’s sharing her top 8 tips on how to save money while traveling.

Alex also writes the blog Alex In Wanderland. This post is part of a 2 part series so be sure to stop back next Wednesday to read part 2!

How To Save Money On Travel

Travel has always been my passion in life. When I’m home, I’m saving up to go traveling. And when I’m traveling, I’m pinching pennies to make the trip last as long as possible. Travel doesn’t have to be an unattainable luxury! I’ve done the dirty backpacker thing, but I’ve also had a taste of the good life with a luxury cruise. Somewhere along the way I found a way to balance saving money on trips and not compromising the things I love about travel, and I’ve shared some of what I’ve found here.


Every trip starts with transportation, and often it takes a major chunk of the travel budget with it! For the most part, this is inevitable. But there are ways to ease the pain.

1. Consider Alternatives to Air Flying is the preferred method of long distance travel for obvious reasons, but when traveling domestically don’t forget to check into alternatives like train or bus travel. Some bus operators such as Greyhound and Megabus even offer perks like WiFi and power outlets on some routes! Or use this Fuel Cost Calculator to see how much it would be to use your own four wheels, which would cut down on taxis and other transport costs once you arrive at your destination. Major bonus? No crazy baggage fees!

2. Look Into Low Cost Carriers When traveling by plane, especially in foreign countries, look into Low Cost Carries, or LCC. LCC’s are discount airlines that have low fares and few frills. On the upside, they can offer shockingly cheap flights, often a fraction of what a major carrier would charge. On the downside, they often have tons of extra charges and fly into alternative airports. They often don’t make their fares searchable on major flight search engines- you are better off going to the LCC’s own website. You can find a list of LCCs by country here.

3. Getting to Point A One day I was patting myself on the back for scoring such a super affordable flight to the Bahamas- only to realize I spent almost the same amount on cabs to and from the airport! When catching your departing flight, look into public transportation or try to cash in a favor with a friend for a ride to the airport. When you arrive at your destination, again, look into public transit or discount airport shuttles. If none of those options are available, consider trying innovative cab sharing services like Cab Match, taxi², or Cab Corner.


Accommodations are often the traveler’s biggest expense. I like to find a good balance between comfort and affordability. I really appreciate style and like to stay in unique places, but realistically, I spend most of my time out exploring anyway! But, there is a way to find that perfect balance.

4. Consider Hostels Hostels are far from the icky, bed-bug ridden or serial-killer filled hell-holes the media would have us believe. They are often modern, stylish and comfortable. Most offer private rooms which allow you to take advantage of perks like communal kitchens all while maintaining your privacy. Places like LubD Bangkok and Oops! Paris are so chic they could almost be considered boutique hotels! A great thing about hostels is that they leave lots of cash for splurging on other things- this room in Phnom Penh had a private bathroom, free WiFi and air-conditioning, easy access to the open-air rooftop lounge. The best part, it cost my partner and I just $9 each.

image courtesy of alex

5. Live Like A Local No matter how swank they may be becoming, hostels just aren’t for everyone. You can replicate some of the benefits of hostels and remove a lot of the downsides by renting an apartment or condo at your destination. You often get a great rate, you can cook a majority of your meals and often do your own laundry. Sites like AirBnB and Roomorama allow you to browse photos and descriptions of short term rentals available for as little as one night. Another thing to consider is: renting out your own place while you are away. The money the renters pay can be used to finance your trip!

Food & Drink

Food and drink make up a major portion of the average travel budget. But, they don’t have to! I don’t eat all my meals in restaurants at home so I try not to do so when I travel.

6. Make Breakfast Affordable Hotel and restaurant breakfasts can be pricey. There are alternatives to letting the first meal of the day drain your budget. If you are staying in a place with a kitchen (this is where a condo or a private room in a hostel would come in really handy!) breakfast is the perfect meal to cook. During a trip to Honduras with four friends, we each took a turn buying a carton of eggs, a loaf of bread, and a gallon of juice. It was a simple meal but a great way to start the day together- and it saved us a ton of cash! Even if your room has nothing but a mini-fridge, you can stock up on fruit, yogurt and power bars to start the morning with.

image courtesy of alex

7. Use The Tap Save the Earth, your waistline, and your wallet- drink water from tap if possible! You might be surprised how many foreign countries have perfectly safe drinking water from the tap. Pack a reusable water bottle and fill up at your hotel in the morning and drinking fountains throughout the day, and order tap water in restaurants. If only bottled water is safe to drink, buy the largest bottle available and decant it into your portable sized reusable bottle. In Thailand I buy 1.5 gallon jugs at a time, saving me money and cutting down on the plastic I’m using.

8. Pick One Meal Per Day Rather than eating big restaurant lunches or dinners, pick one meal to splurge on. Keep in mind that the lunch menu is often a great way to try a restaurant that might be much more expensive come dinner time. For your other meal, cook (if possible), try street food, buy sandwiches or other grab-and-go meals from the grocery stores and markets. When I was in Ibiza I often bought a baguette and some cheese and made my own sandwich on the beach… leaving me more money to afford the ridiculous entry fees at the clubs! (But that’s another story entirely.)

Thanks Alex! And, we’ll see you next week for part 2! 


How do you save money to travel? What are your tips to making the most of your money on your trip? Is it hard to stick to your financial goals when you’re on vacation?

Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)


in How To, Practical Solutions, Social, Things To Do, Travel Cheap
Radio Interview + How To Watch/Listen To Yourself Without Cringing
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Last weekend I had the opportunity to talk with Michael Finney of Consumer Talk Radio in San Francisco about the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on The High Cost of Being A Bridesmaid (and What to Do About It).

It still feels surreal whenever people what to hear what I have to say on a topic. So humbling (shoot, I just wanted some accountabilty with paying off my debt when I started this site).

Being on the radio is slightly less cringe-worthy than being on TV (because there’s less to be critical and self-conscious about since the visual aspect isn’t there) but still it’s like, “Why did I say that!?” or “I should’ve answered that question another way!”

I heard a good tip the other day and was thinking you might find it interesting too if you’re ever in the position of watching/listening to yourself.

It’s this:

  • The 1st time you watch/listen to yourself you’ll cringe
  • The 2nd time you watch/listen to the piece you’ll cringe less
  • And, the 3rd time you watch/listen to it you’ll be able to see the piece more objectively so you’ll be able to critique yourself and make notes of things to change for the next time

Moral of the story: suffer through the first 2 viewings.

If you’d like to listen the the radio interview on The High Cost of Being A Bridesmaid (and What To Do About It) it’s right here. There’s a brief mention of the interview in the beginning of the hour and then my part starts at the 40:35 mark.


Do you have tips for being interviewed? How do deal with public speaking and how do you keep your brain from freezing up!?


in How To, Press & Interviews, Societal Pressures, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
The Accessories Swap Photobooth Images Are Up!
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Newell Jones + Jones Photography

The Accessories Swap photobooth photographs are posted!

To view the photobooth photographs:

Go to:

Then: Click on the Accessories Swap gallery

The photobooth just adds a little extra fun to any event. I love seeing all the shots after events to see what people did in the photos.

Newell Jones + Jones Photography

Newell Jones + Jones Photography

The Big Buddha Handbag Giveaway Winners!

The crew

Me and my identical twin sister Kelly (she’s on the left)


in Clothing/Accessories Swap, Fashion & Style, Personal
The Ultimate List of Women Money Bloggers
Author: Anna Newell Jones

image via etsy chicsindesigndotcom

Have you seen this amazing list of Women Money Bloggers?!!!?!!? It’s chock full of tons of great sites! I’ve got a ton of sites to check out now.

The Ultimate List of Women Money Bloggers

(p.s. I’m so honored that And Then We Saved has been included in the list too;)


in Press & Interviews, Things To Do
How De-Cluttering Made For A Big Charitable Donation Tax Write-Off
Author: Linda Benjamin Pardee

Linda Bejamin Pardee de-cluttered her space and ended up with a major tax write-off as a result.

“Charitable donations:  It all started with the purse museum. image courtesy of linda benjamin pardee

Okay, I admit it – I love purses. It’s my thing. They always fit even if I’ve eaten a few too many chocolate truffles. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and they’re so damn pretty!

So when I started the Spending Fast, my first commitment was: ‘No New Purses!’ I also realized I wasn’t using several of my bags and that selling them might help bring down my debt. I listed a few of them on eBay to see what would happen. Some sold, some didn’t. Since my PayPal account is tied to one of my major credit cards, the ones that did sell went immediately toward paying down the balance on that card.

I held onto the purses that didn’t sell for about a month, all the while thinking ‘now what’? Having just started the Spending Fast I was in a downsizing frame of mind and not just on handbags but on clothes and shoes as well.

I started researching charitable donation centers in my area (Los Angeles) and found that the National Council of Jewish Women, which has several ‘second hand’ stores, has a reputation for giving top dollar receipts on donations. I bagged up the unsold purses and some old clothes and made my way over there. A few weeks later I received a tax receipt in the mail. My donation brought in over $350 in tax deductions. I couldn’t help myself – I went back into my closet and started looking at the things I’d been on the fence over donating.

I got serious and honest with myself, and I decided that I only wanted to keep what I really used on an everyday basis. The frenzy had begun.

Once I was finished with my clothes closet I started looking at everything in my house differently. I started in the kitchen and got rid of all the items I had stuffed in the back of the cupboards. I had duplicates of everything from mixing bowls to flatware. These things were just taking up space. Then there were books. A goldmine of books I wasn’t going to read again! I boxed them up. Our old futon in the guestroom was a landing strip for luggage – it had to go. I donated lamps and old bath towels that I’d long ago stopped using and was holding onto in case my nieces finally moved out of my sister’s house and needed them. My husband thought I’d lost my mind but went along with it.

Last month I started organizing paperwork in preparation of having our taxes done. I totaled up my receipts from the charitable donations I’ve made over the last several months, and I have a write off of a little over $2,100! Needless to say, I’m thrilled (and I have really clean closets too.)

As for my love of purses, let’s just say I cover my eyes when I walk thru department stores . . . ”

Thank you Linda!


Do you utilize charitable donation write-offs on your taxes? What’s the biggest charitable donation you’ve made in a year?  

Would you like to be a contributor on a topic related to personal finance or frugal living? Send me an email at: (Please know that credit or lending companies will not be considered. Only real people with real stories and real experiences should email.)


in De-Clutter, Do Without, Motivation, Paying Off Debt, Practical Solutions, Spending Fast, Taxes
I Got A Final Notice
Author: Anna Newell Jones

Miss Frugal Spending Fast lady went and got herself a collections notice.

I was being a real-live responsible adult when I contacted my insurance company before I decided to get allergy shots. I wanted to make sure they would cover the cost before I decided to go forward and when they said, “Yes, we will”. I believed them.

You can probably guess where this is going… turns out the bulk of the cost was not actually covered.

When I realized I was stuck with the bill I negotiated a payment plan with the hospital where I would pay them $150 per month so I wouldn’t have to pay the total due (approx $1,600!) right then and there. For a few months I paid the exact amount that I had arranged to pay and since I reactivated the Spending Fast I was able to send them even more sometimes. (Have I mentioned how cool it is to be able to tap on the Spending Fast when unexpected life stuff like this happens? Yep, it’s cool.)

When I started to receive notices from the hospital about late/no payments on my bill I was all, “Say what? We had a plan hospital! We had a PLAN!” Like, I was some forlorn lover that got betrayed.

Turns out, things had gotten jacked up.

I’ve called the hospital a million times and they’ve assured me that my account won’t be getting sent a collection agency, and as much as I want to believe them, I don’t.

I can’t get over how I’ve done so much to get my financial life straightened out over the past couple years, how I’ve tried and tried and tried to NOT find myself in this situation and then it goes and happens anyway.

It proves that the reality of this situation (and of any situation really) is that I can only do what I can do. I can only do what’s right in front of me and I can’t get ahead of myself worrying about the future and future situations because then I’ll just drive myself bat-sh*t crazy and the stuff I worried so much about might not even happen anyway! I’ve done what I can with the bill.

I’m going to pay it like I’ve arranged and now it’s time to let it go.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve felt completely out of control even though you’ve done everything you thought was right? How did you get past it? Or, have you been in the same situation as me? Got any tips?


in Paying Off Debt, Personal, Spending Fast, Staying Out of Debt, Struggle (Hopeless, Demoralized)
Looking Forward To That Refund Check?
Author: Mary Ann

Are you looking forward to a tax refund this year? I’m one of those people that really likes to get a tax refund because it’s like a bonus chunk of money! Whenever I tell my dad that he says, “The government is getting an interest free loan on YOUR MONEY!” He goes on to say that if I’m getting a refund back each year then too much money is getting withheld from my paycheck every month and that money could be going to things I need each month (or into savings and collecting interest for me) instead of adding up and collecting interest for the government. And, really, I know he’s right. He usually always is… but, I still can’t help but get a little happy when I get that fat check back.

I mean, it is NICE.

So once that check arrives, the question then becomes: “Should I save it, spend it, or pay off debt?” You probably know what I’m going to recommend… yep, pay off that debt. It can be hard to put that money towards the debt (I know how hard that is!) but it’ll just help to get the debt paid off that much faster which is the goal, and, oh, SUCH an AMAZING accomplishment!

Debt-free living is where IT IS AT.

Today, Mary Ann is sharing what her and her husband do with their tax refund (below).

image courtesy of mary ann

My husband and I spent our early years in a cycle of spending and then every spring we would pay off our debts with our income tax refund. This is not a practice I endorse today, especially given the economic state of our country. We have worked really hard to change that dynamic and the spending cycle. Today we live within (and below) our means since we are preparing for retirement. The benefit of our debt reduction is that we have many more choices as we prepare for the small windfall coming our way once our taxes are filed.

In 2010, it was reported that the average income tax refund was over $3,000 and that is up 10 percent from a year before. Since the 2010 Tax Relief Act extends through the end of 2012 many of us will see some extra money this spring.

This is what we do to maximize our tax refund:

Apply credits and itemize

I’ve learned that itemizing deductions is the way to increase our refund check. In order to make some smart choices, I consulted the IRS calculator. This gave me a general idea of what to expect for our return and once I’ve finalized and filed our tax return we like to take the time to think about and discuss what to do with the money that will be coming our way.

Analyze debt and pay off debt first

Although we have tried very hard to reduce our debt load, unexpected things do pop up. So we survey our financial situation and organize our debts into two categories, those with high interest rates and those with low interest rates. Thankfully, we are no longer saddled with college or car loans and while our first instinct may be to use the windfall for that big screen TV or a trip to Europe that we have been wanting, we know now that living within and below our means is the only way we will truly achieve financial freedom in our retirement.

It has taken many years and a lot of discipline to get where we are today. We’ve learned that making small strides towards financial security gives us a great feeling of accomplishment.

About Mary Ann: Mary Ann Rosenthal is a grandmother to four beautiful children under the age of five. She is dedicated to helping her friends and family save money and works with her son Aaron at She is also an artist, writer and aspiring photographer living in Saint Augustine, Florida.

Thanks Mary Ann!


Are you expecting a tax refund this year? What are your plans for the money? Will you be paying down your debt or going on a splurge?


in Paying Off Debt, Spending Fast, Things To Do
  • Anna

    Hi, I'm Anna! I paid off close to 24k in debt in only 15 months & it completely changed my life! I want you to have a debt-free life too so here you'll be able to read all about: How to do a Spending Fast®, saving & making more money, DIY's, & a lot about living awesomely with less. Also! We're building a Tiny House and we're going to be on Tiny House Nation. Follow along!!

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